Subsidies to Catholic Schools in N.Y. To Be Slashed

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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced last week that it will reduce the subsidies it gives parochial elementary schools next year by nearly one-half.

Two-thirds of the 243 elementary schools in the archdiocese, which includes the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well Westchester and other suburban counties, receive subsidies to supplement tuition and parish collections. For some schools in poorer parishes, the subsidies make up as much as half their budgets, so the cuts could eliminate 25 percent or more of their operating funds, archdiocesan officials acknowledged.

The subsidies range from about $50,000 for a group of schools to as much as $200,000 to a single school, said Nora Murphy, a spokesman for the archdiocese. The total amount budgeted for subsidies will be re4duced from $11 million this year to $6 million next year, she said.

Also, parish elementary schools in the archdiocese have been grouped into clusters of two to six neighboring schools to become more financially sound, officials said.

Each cluster that is dependent upon a subsidy has been asked to develop plans for either cutting costs or increasing revenues to make up for the reduction in aid from the archdiocese.

"What we have said to them is, 'Make suggestions,"' said Ms. Murphy.

According to a letter sent last month to pastors and principals by Msgr. Hugh F. McManus, the archdiocese's vicar for education, the clustering plan and the subsidy cuts came about at the request of financial advisers to Cardinal John O'Connor, the Archbishop of New York.

"Austere planning now will enable the archdiocese to contemplate the years ahead with a sense of security," Monsignor McManus wrote, adding that there is a need to craft "a leaner school network."

He cited an example of a cluster of four elementary schools that might receive a total subsidy of $360,000, and be asked to cut back to $180,000 or $200,000.

"Is there any possibility of combining grades between two or three schools?" he asked. "Could one school become an early-childhood center while its older students transfer to one or another nearby parish school?"

Pastors and school officials have been consulting with parents or with their elected parish councils to develop proposals to submit to the archdiocese, which are due by Dec. 15.

No decisions have been announced yet about reductions in subsidies to archdiocesan high schools, but they have been under review, officials said.

Vol. 10, Issue 15

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